2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 8 Aug 2002 19:11:33 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] "Communities in the Line of Fire"
In June, 2002, the national Military Toxics Project released a 54-page
report, "Communities in the Line of Fire: The Environmental, Cultural,
and Human Health Impacts of Military Munitions and Firing Ranges." The
report reviews the environmental consequences of the U.S. military's
ammunition production, testing, training, and disposal, with case
studies from the following locations:
Badger Army Ammunition Plant (Wisconsin)
Fort Richardson, Eagle River Flats Impact Area (Alaska)
Jefferson Proving Ground (Indiana)
Makua Valley (Hawai'i)
Massachusetts Military Reservation
San Diego (California)
Sierra Army Depot (California)
Vieques (Puerto Rico)

To request an electronic or hardcopy version of the report, contact
Steve Taylor at 

The conclusion of "Communities in the Line of Fire" is reproduced below,
with permission.



While defending our country, the Department of Defense has consistently
poisoned communities through its production, testing, use, and disposal
of munitions. Military firing ranges ? as centers for the constant use
of munitions ? are often extremely contaminated and pose grave threats
to public health and the environment. Residents of communities all over
the world suffer chronic and acute health effects caused by the
constituents of military munitions, and are endangered by unexploded
ordnance. DoD has resisted efforts to investigate and remedy munitions
contamination, and has sought special status above the law.

Community organizations that publicly question the impacts of military
munitions and firing ranges, and challenge the DoD to protect their
communities from its own practices, are often branded unpatriotic
fanatics or even accused of intentionally undermining national security.
The Department of Defense is under the mistaken impression that anyone
who challenges its indiscriminate use and disposal of munitions is
unpatriotic or treasonous.  On the contrary, because we believe that the
democratic process is what makes the United States strong and that our
military exists to defend us from harm, even at its own hands, we have a
duty to express our beliefs and question decisions that will affect our
lives and the lives of our descendants.

How unpatriotic is it to want to protect the health of your community?
How fanatical is it to want clean water to drink and uncontaminated food
to eat? Does it make sense to poison communities in order to defend them?

The importance of holding our military responsible for its actions is
apparent in light of the chronic disease and death associated with
chemical contamination from munitions and the acute safety danger posed
by unexploded ordnance.

Federal and state laws can only protect communities when those affected
by military contamination and pollution are involved in the
decision-making process and have unrestricted access to information
about existing contamination, ongoing pollution, and cleanup options.
Affected communities, tribes, and states must be full partners, not bit
players, in the oversight of military munitions and firing ranges.

As should be clear by now, inadequate waivers of sovereign immunity,
failures of policy and will by EPA headquarters, and cultural deference
to the military have combined to allow expended or discarded military
munitions and their byproducts to contaminate air, soil, water, and
subsistence food supplies and damage human health.  Despite a variety of
statements by Congress that federal agencies and facilities should be
treated the same as everyone else, communities poisoned by munitions
contamination and endangered by UXO still receive less protection than
communities affected by private facilities.

Human health, the environment, cultural and historic sites, and
subsistence food supplies have already been harmed by munitions
contamination. Military munitions and firing ranges and the poisons they
release often remain largely unregulated until a catastrophe ? such as
contamination of the sole drinking water supply for half a million
people ? has already occurred. Many states and some EPA regions have
taken the lead in addressing the problem, but often without adequate
support from Washington. Action is desperately needed to protect
communities, ensure cleanups protective of human health and the
environment, and prevent additional contamination. Communities, tribes,
and states will continue to seek out the means to protect themselves and
organize to demand military accountability to our laws.


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

  Prev by Date: [CPEO-MEF] Spring Valley Excavation to Focus on 2 Sites
Next by Date: Re: [CPEO-MEF] El Toro Vote to Seek Full Navy Cleanup
  Prev by Thread: [CPEO-MEF] Spring Valley Excavation to Focus on 2 Sites
Next by Thread: [CPEO-MEF] illness

CPEO Lists
Author Index
Date Index
Thread Index